Heroin Bill Seeks Immunity for Overdose Calls: "You're Weighing a Conviction Versus a Life"

heroin image 3.jpg
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Representative Bryan Spencer is promoting a bill that would offer immunity in certain cases to individuals who seek medical attention for a drug overdose -- and for the Missouri lawmaker, it's personal.

"I had a student who died of heroin use," he tells Daily RFT. "He was a bright young man who had a great future in front of him."

Spencer, who taught elementary, middle and high school classes for more than twenty years, argues that individuals who call 911 for friends who have overdoses should have limited immunity against possession charges.

"You're weighing a conviction versus a life," he says. "I understand both sides of the argument. But you have to decide: Is a life more important, or is putting someone in jail more important?"

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Spencer, a Republican and formerly a teacher in the Francis Howell School District, says his good Samaritan proposal is not a partisan one, and it's getting support and opposition from members of both parties.

"I'm getting a lot of positive response and negative response," he says. "It goes back to conviction versus saving a life. The arguments from both sides are very strong.... But when push comes to shove, do I put someone in jail, or do I put someone in a hospital or a rehab center?"

bryan spencer rep.jpg
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Representative Bryan Spencer

House Bill 296, which Spencer says should be heard in committee next week when legislators return from spring break, would establish very specific circumstances when individuals could not be charged when they seek emergency medical assistance in overdose cases.

The draft, full version below, says:

A person who, in good faith, seeks or obtains emergency medical assistance for someone experiencing an overdose shall not be charged or prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance...if evidence of the possession of a controlled substance charge...was acquired as a result of the person seeking or obtaining emergency medical assistance....

Continue for more details on the bill and response from advocates.

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18 comments
Timothy Colmey
Timothy Colmey

This isnt about getting a pass for possession, this is about not getting charged with murder or manslaughter if the person should die from an o.d. The stakes are much higher than just a drug poss charge, which is why people won't call for help.

Timothy Colmey
Timothy Colmey

To you nay-sayers: I bet you would feel differently if it were your friend or loved one who needed medical attention. The only crime should be if you don't call for help when some one falls out from an o.d. Saving lives needs to be the focus, not filing criminal charges.

Riverbend Taxi
Riverbend Taxi

I think you will save a lot of lives this way. Finally a lawmaker that is thinking reasonably.

Mark David Simpkins
Mark David Simpkins

Can I get A free pass on a DUI if I'm the soberest one in the car ? Just a thought. Good law, I vote yes!

Andee Rose Shymama Gagliano
Andee Rose Shymama Gagliano

i think there should be a lesser charge b/c pp are too scared to call 911 when their buddy falls out, and a lot of times, the OD'ed person is left for dead, happened upon by passers-by. but no, it shouldnt be a "tra la la" youre not in trouble. but lesser charges/sentences would be better than this "let's charge the person who gave them/got them their drugs with murder..." b/c that'll merely deter ppl even more from calling 911.

Jason Bryson
Jason Bryson

The amount of people who die every year because people are afraid of calling the police or an ambulance is far higher than the general public could realize. This situation goings on dozens of times a day in Missouri, if not more.

Allison Benoit
Allison Benoit

Yes. They're trying to save a life. And what if the friend shows up at their friend's place and finds them ODing. Because they showed up at a house that contains illegal drugs they would automatically get slapped with a possession charge? That's stupid.

Chris Ferguson
Chris Ferguson

yes. you should also not convict those dropping friends off at the hospital with murder. kind of discourages seeking medical attention.

Deanna Marie
Deanna Marie

NO! The person should be charged for doing drugs and being is possession! I don't agree with this "lawmaker"

Jillian Ashley
Jillian Ashley

I would hate to think that a heroine possession charge would prohibit a friend from saving someones life - but it happens. I believe that in Missouri they passed Valerie's Law, where if you don't seek medical attention for a friend overdosing - it's murder, or a similar charge. Hopefully that's enough incentive.

Mandy Paris
Mandy Paris

Benjamin, you'd have to call the cops on yourself as OD'ing to be immune.

Krista Akers
Krista Akers

Yes, I think they should get a free pass on the drug charges. It goes without saying that people should care more about saving their friend than saving their ass, but people suck, so most wouldn't.

Mandy Paris
Mandy Paris

This is awesome. Yes, definitely agree with this.

Benjamin Michael
Benjamin Michael

so if the cops show up at my door im just gonna try to OD. great idea

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